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An Open Letter to Webflow

TBH, that is the whole point.

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Hi @callmevlad,
It’s 11:30pm here, I’m finishing working on a site and saw your reply, so I cannot not take a bit of extra time to follow up right away…

First, @jmkriz is absolutely right you know ? and also why I said in my original message that “my trust is gone. I don’t believe in your roadmap anymore”…

You are correct saying there’s too much to respond to in one message, that’s fair to say, and I don’t think that’s expected. We’re all adults and realise you can’t answer to every single grievance.

But allow me to give you a step by step feedback on your answer. I know it’s easy for me to do, as I speak to you directly, but trickier for you as by answering here, you speak to thousands.

I’m generally not a fan of this type of communication as it can feel like crude criticism, but it’s been a long day and it’s easier for me to do it this way. I want to do this in fair spirit and to help you understand where after reading your message, I think you might still be mistaken / there might still be some misalignements.

Indeed, this moto currently can’t be defended…

“Livelihood” is a critical point here. We’re not on Webflow like teenagers are on Facebook. We’re using Webflow to make a living . We’re all professionals and we know what we’re talking about here (technically and commercially). We’re your point of contact with the final customer and when we push requests to you, it’s because we get them from our market. Being aligned with our market is what allows us to earn a living. So if you can’t help us reach this alignment, we lose our customers, you lose yours, the relationship breaks - which is what happened (please note I purposely said “happened” and not “is happening”…).

First important hiccup here. You need to have one… Admittedly it won’t be highly detailed and have every single feature you guys might be working on, but the critical basic features everyone’s crying about here, I’d expect that to be on a clear roadmap now… If it’s the only thing JZ does, that should be it.

Apologies if I read this wrong, but to me what you’re talking about here is either addressing the symptoms instead of the problem or should be in the point 3 about Customer Support.
My original point here was about development priorities and the actual development speed. I’ll save you the hiring of those Webflow advocates or whatever you call them. That’s a bad corporate answer to this issue and money out the window. You want to know your customers priorities ? Just get JZ to check the freaking Wishlist !!! It’s all been there for years !!!
Now that I saved you all this money, you can use that to hire more developers that will actually do the work.

Also as a general business advise, avoid hiring too many “middle men” like that. They’ll get your company bloated…

Ok, I agree with what you’re saying here. But I think you should still consider quick wins if technically possible. The situation is clearly bad and every little helps.
Also I’m a bit surprised you’re just forming the team to focus on that now…

Lead time ? This is important, especially if you want your Enterprise proposition taken seriously (Oh, and think about dedicated hosting for Enterprise too… just sayin’).

That can’t come soon enough… and hopefully it will be more an announcement than an update…

Yes, of course, but you can get your current developers to focus on features important to customers… which I feel is not currently the case.

Action’s all that’s left…

Hopefully it’s clear that this aims to be constructive feedback, and not just easy criticism.

If something’s not clear, just ask.

Thanks for (finally) taking the time to reply.

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Your post is suitably apologetic, but I can’t believe we’re still talking about growing pains in 2021.

It should take you less than a day to round up the worst offenders in the wishlist, the forums and features that make your competitors more viable options in certain areas. Then you should focus on those things - no more new and “innovative” nice-to-have features no one has a pressing need for, no more focus on marketing, no more endless webinars or patting yourself on your back in the blog, no more sending people to vote for wishlist items when you ask customer support for help. Not until the absolute basic stuff is fixed and your most loyal customers satisfied. Since the last time you had to come in here a year ago, you’ve shipped folders and deletion of more than one item in the assets manager (which is cool, but like a tenth of what it needs), discounts (which took years), a broken scheduler and perhaps one or two somewhat neat but basic things. The rest is stuff that’s so far down on the list it’s obscene that you’re even working on it when you still can’t search for classes or sell digital goods and when thousands are begging you for other features.

Just to exemplify how out of touch Webflow is: You wrote a blog post outlining how great Webflow is for blogs in August last year, using language like “a powerful platform for bloggers of all kinds” and you keep saying how people should migrate from Wordpress and how easy it is.

Anyone that has used Webflow for a somewhat active blog (or like me, a somewhat medium/large blog/news site) can tell you it’s a contender for the worst blog platform out there. I’m not exaggerating here, it’s on the verge of being unusuable for blogs.

It requires constant tinkering, loads of workarounds, tons of custom code and discovery of undocumented head scratching limitations that will seriously jeopardize any serious blogging attempts - and even with all the workarounds it’s still nowhere near even the simplest Wordpress site in features. Setting up the basic WP theme yields a much better blog platform and that’s quite simply not good enough.

Basic stuff like no sorting features, no publish date field (it’s broken), broken RSS feeds, no real publish system, a rich text editor that is vastly outclassed by the text editor in this very forum, an insane CMS limit, very poor editor performance, no contributor levels and no real asset management for blog posts to just name stuff off the top of my head. It’s baffling when you want to take on Wordpress and blow the no-code horn, it’s doubly baffling when it’s been years and years and very little has changed, and it’s close to insulting that you brag about a sub-par features like you do.

A few weeks back I sent over a very small request that would make life using the API easier by having a bit more info in error messages (show CMS item ID instead of CMS item name so that I didn’t need to go through 60-70 API calls to search for the correct ID - the API does not support search/filtering…). The answer I got was that I should consider making my own database and reference that to find the info I needed or to go ask in the wishlist. It just so deflating man.

Edit: Just had to vent a bit more I guess. I love Webflow as a no-code concept and as a tool for building easy sites quickly, I love the community and the passion, but there is from my limited perspective something deeply wrong about the decisions being taken here. You excel at showing yourself off, but fail at communicating. I have wanted to send over tips and suggestions for so long but I’m always stunted by knowing that it will never amount to anything, and knowing that the most passionate fans and customers that are willing to help and willing to use WF to its fullest (while paying for it) are mostly being ignored while you work on nested symbols and logic flows. We want you to succeed.

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First of all, wow, Vlad’s answer is kind of disappointing.

One can only hope that the ever-increasing criticism will slowly open Webflow’s eyes. At least I hope so! I for one will re-up my account plan when basic issues (especially for Eu citizens) are solved. Until then, good luck and please don’t mess it up. Webflow has so much potential…

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Webflow is so powerful and innovative in many ways.

While I also criticize Webflow for their support, slow pace in rolling out and improving features, as well as some of Webflow’s limitations, I really do not want to judge as if I know what to do. It is obvious that new features do not appear like magic.

People love to kind of instructing Webflow on what to do. That’s meaningless. I am quite sure Webflow will become a bad and messy product eventually if Webflow listens to all of that and loses its own direction.

I like Webflow so much. I would like to see Webflow becomes one of the top options when people think about when building a website around the globe. It is also very important that Webflow remains flexible so that agencies can develop sophisticated and beautiful websites for serious clients. ( … and just stay away from Wix and Squarespace rubbish. )

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If you think that’s deflating try waiting for over a year for anyone to respond to this issue on the JS API wrapper library that I opened. When Kyle from Webflow responded (thanks Kyle) he came out with some pretty startling revelations, namely that only a small group of engineers at Webflow are even aware that the JavaScript API wrapper library exists! Also there are no plans to develop it further.

This API is plagued with issues. These posts here and here are some of the more detailed ones.

Yet here it is as a Webflow University lesson. This would lead you to believe that it’s something you can rely on, not something that most of Webflow’s engineering team doesn’t even know exists. You have to find out the hard way that it’s simply not fit for public release.

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Ah yes. I’ve run into most of the big issues with the API and have just given up on it ever being fixed or made better.

Let me also introduce you to the official Webflow Wordpress plugin (Webflow Pages) which I use. It had some issues that I reported in (a bug made all headers return 404 instead of 200), and support told me they had nothing to do with the plugin, it is made and maintained by Udesly, so I should talk to them!

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I can’t agree more with your complaints.
I’ve been using WF for my personal site and few small projects. Love this tool but it has some disadvantages that are preventing me from using it in decent projects (big money!):

1. No multi-language support. You guys at WF have ever traveled outside the US? Here in Europe most of the sites need at least 2 languages. Some up to 4. I can’t tell a client to pay for a third-party integration like Weglot an additional amount of money (way more than WF plan).

2. Basic E-commerce. The guys at Shopify must be laughing when you compare their tool to Webflow’s. For a very small shop, Webflow might work well but if you need to manage thousands of products, filters (yes, users like to filter products) and customer accounts… forget WF.

3. It’s expensive.

Nevertheless, Webflow keeps launching features no one is asking for.

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I’m going to chime in here after reading this thread with some thoughts based on being one of the few who’s been here since the beginning in 2013. When I found Webflow, it was a single page designer, but even then, the concept was revolutionary. After a month of using it, I was on the forums every day, running into people like @callmevlad @cyberdave @PixelGeek and many others and just vibing with incredible transparency about what this platform could become. We were all a bunch of nerds geeking out on what we were a part of! It was awesome! And it continued! As the years went by, we kept getting awesome unexpected surprises. Multi Page, Interactions, rich text, the cms etc. That all came out and were revolutionary and completely better than anything out there. I can truly say Webflow changed my life!

Then everyone seemed to disappear. No one was excited anymore it seemed. We weren’t seeing updates and features. We weren’t even seeing optimizations. IX2 still sucks! And as someone who now builds websites almost exclusively on Webflow, this is disheartening. I mean, I was approached by UFC to build a site on Webflow and I did it showcasing the power of the CMS. And when I reached out to the team to talk about a blog post/podcast to show this off, I was dismissed. It’s like the magic of Webflow disappeared and so did the excitement. I remember the days where I could schedule a FaceTime call with Vlad himself, and now this is the first we’ve heard from him in 9 months and it feels like a press release. What happened to the Ted Talk attitude you had that inspired the hell out of me years ago. About empowering anyone to build a world class site without code and that you will continue to revolutionize the product year over year?

I find it interesing that once the A round came out, the updates become more financially driven, (e commerce over fixing issues or addressing 5 year old wishlist items). Additionally this incessant focus on enterprise type products which is just an awful idea. If your product can’t fit the needs of small businesses due to not addressing issues, how is it ever going to be used by enterprise. Make your product bulletproof, then scale. It’s felt like a money grab for years now. And my excitement to answer questions on the forum as a mod just became non existent, I was no longer excited about this platform.

I say this all with great sadness because I absolutely loved Webflow and the community and I loved how I always felt like part of the team. Like together we were doing something, it wasn’t the company and us customers, it was us all together working towards something to change the world. I want my faith in this platform restored.

With that being said, anyone on the Webflow team can feel free to reach out to me on the slack channel if you want to just have a chat and reconnect. I miss speaking with all of you and I hope maybe I can help bring that magic back into this platform.

I wish all of you on the team and all of you amazing people on the forums all the best and thank you for hearing my story.

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Honestly, thanks for the update, Vlad.

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After all, investing more time and money in product development and speed up the process is vital.

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Having been torched by Adobe Muse, I was reluctant to move to Webflow - but the community on the Webflow forum was so energetic… and the volunteer involvement from @DFink and @webdev had me 100% convinced that I was choosing the right platform to move our large website to.

We are 1/2 finished w/ our new Webflow site - but I’ve put the entire redesign on hold. I’m not getting a good vibe.

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If it’s just your own site and it’s relatively small then Webflow is probably fine. The issues discussed in this thread come about on larger sites or tend to cause problems for agencies or freelancers who build many sites for many clients with more complex needs. Webflow is still good for simple marketing brochure style websites IMO.

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Regardless of my thoughts on direction, this platform isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This discussion is preemptive in making sure we are all taken care of before anything goes awry. Webflow management has already reached out to me directly to discuss concerns and hear my thoughts. This shows that they are indeed taking this seriously. I’m here to work with them on behalf of us users so that we can make an impact on the direction of the development of this awesome platform. FYI, I built out a ton of giant hundreds of cms page sites in 2020 so you can put faith in the power. I truly wouldn’t continue to invest my time in it if I wasn’t sure of it’s potential. That being said this is exactly what I’ll be discussing, where that potential takes us. Hang in there.

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I really wish, after finding forum questions about it back from up to 6 years ago, that static background images on mobile, worked.

I’m toying with going freelance, & this whole thread was something to ponder. I should thank Webflow though, as I’ve created a portfolio far more beautiful than the one I coded myself.

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It’s worth a ponder, but I’ve seen similar threads on most platforms I work with. Webflow is ok.

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Been waiting for items that are planned and in development forever. Although Webflow is much better than Adobe Muse, I may have to look for another platform to migrate my clients to.

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Happy to hear! :raised_hands:

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I wouldn’t make the move. It will take probably 2 years to get e-commerce where it needs to be? Maybe 3. How do I know? I’ve been around Webflow from day one. I am not exaggerating on the timeline.

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Imagine that! :frowning: It’s pretty mind boggling.

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